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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3406


Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (16:32): I start by congratulating the previous speaker for her speech. This is obviously a subject which is very difficult for people, and she gave an excellent speech. On that note, I also congratulate the member for Swan for his speech in the chamber on this issue. For those people who did not have the privilege of hearing the member for Swan in the chamber when we last sat, which was, I think, seven weeks ago, it was one of the best speeches that has been given in this term of the parliament. I commend that speech to anyone with an interest in this issue. As someone who lived through the reality of this issue, the way that he clearly, concisely and emotionally dealt with the issue was an absolute credit and testament to him. In that regard also I think credit is due to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, who also spoke extremely well on this issue.

Both sides of the parliament came together to recognise this issue and to work in a bipartisan way to make sure that there was a national apology for forced adoptions and removal policies and practices. By making that apology, we were able as a parliament to recognise the errors that occurred. It is absolutely vital for those who have suffered to have the reassurance that the national parliament has recognised that what went on was wrong and that it has been prepared to do the right thing, admit that and make this apology.

The government has also put revenue towards trying to help deal with the situation, and I commend the government for doing that. Obviously that was supported by the coalition, rightly, and hopefully those policies which have been put in place as a result of this national apology can help those people who are still dealing with this issue and in many cases have had to deal with it for most of their lives.

I would like to go back to the member for Swan's speech because, having not lived through this, I think it is difficult to understand what the consequences would be. He talked about being reunited with his brother and the emotion of that and also what his brother and he had had to live through until they were reunited and until, slowly, other members of the family were also reunited. I think it is extremely telling. As someone who grew up as one of six children, I cannot imagine what it would have been like to discover members of your family when you were at the age of 45 or 51, as was the case with the member for Swan.

I commend all members of the House for the national apology, and I commend all those who have made statements on it. I think there have been some very moving speeches from our two leaders and, most importantly, from someone who has lived through this and to whom this meant so much. It is an honour for me to stand here to support this apology and to commend those who have also done so.